The heart of the urban forest on Lot 450, Powell River, BC
The Heart of Powell River, 21 May 2015.
I really wish I knew who tagged this tree,  because when you get right down to it…this is my aim too.

Lot 450 and Powell River’s urban forest gained considerable attention in 2015.   Some of the reporting was pretty good – but in the beginning I was just as confused as everyone else.

Two thoughts kept running through my mind as I watched the year unfold:

First, I was reminded of the age-old military principle of “selection and maintenance of the aim.”  In a nutshell, the idea is that it’s really hard to achieve any objective without first deciding what that objective is, and then focusing all your resources upon that.

Rousing the crowd and chanting "stop the cut" at Willingdon Beach, 9 May 2015... and THIS was our fifteen minutes...
Stop the Cut – Former MLA Judi Tyabji rousing the crowd (and raising expectations), 9 May 2015

Second, I was reminded of Andy Warhol’s idea that in our modern world, everyone gets to be “famous for fifteen minutes.” I also thought about Anthony Downs, who took that idea a bit further with his “issue-attention cycle“.

Two pretty smart dudes from the 1970s, if you ask me.

Since most of us choose to ride the same corporate media unicycle, this also means that it’s really easy to get distracted – and therefore fail to maintain the aim.

Enter yours truly

My involvement began one sunny day in April while I was out mowing the lawn.  A friend, knowing my background, suggested it might be helpful to document bird nests in the area.  That proved to be sound advice, since nests are protected, at least on paper, under both the Federal Migratory Bird Convention Act and the Provincial Wildlife Act.

Ultimately I found a bunch of  nests, mapped them, and duly notified landowners, government authorities and private citizens – and some of the latter actually stood up and did something about it.

Stop the cut
The Battle of Sapsucker Wood, 20 May 2015 - C. Heffley
The Battle of Sapsucker Wood,
20 May 2015 – courtesy C. Heffley

It’s likely that several hundred birds fledged young from forests slated for harvest in spring of 2015.  I feel good about my small role in that.

But I yearned to learn more about “Lot 450” and how it came to be.

I wanted to better understand the scale of potential forest habitat loss, and the scale of lost opportunities contained within those forests…

…in short, I wanted to ask:

Stop the cut, sure – and then what?

A good ways into the 21st Century, what else might a thoughtful, creative and well-informed community choose to do with a substantial chunk of largely-intact forest conveniently located in the middle of town?


Let’s start with a map.
The Municipality of Powell River encompasses about 43 km², but some of that is water.  If one considers only the land area, it’s about 30 km², or 3,045 ha (7,526 acres).

There are three major landowners: Catalyst Paper, Island Timberlands, and the PRSC Limited Partnership.  Together these three entities own about 29% of the land contained within city limits, and 64% of the original Lot 450 – or at least that was the case until recently.

The history of land ownership is convoluted, but these three “big players” are the reason why this website is designed the way it is.   It’s also the reason why I needed NASA, spaceships, and dusty old newspapers to understand what’s been happening in my own backyard.

As it turns out, Lot 450 is rather bigger than I first thought.  And a whole lot more interesting.